Vision Produce names new president

Vision Produce Co. has announced the promotion of Dan Lawton to president and managing partner. He is taking over the day-to-day operation of the company, though founder and majority owner Bill Vogel will remain as chairman and CEO.

Vogel, who started the company as Tavilla Sales Co. of Los Angeles in 1980, said he is still involved with the company on a full-time basis but he will concentrate his efforts on strategic planning and in an advisory role with Lawton. He added that Lawton will maintain his sales role with the company alongside Donald Souther, senior vice president of sales and marketing.LA-Tavilla-DanDan Lawton

Lawton started his career with Dole Fresh Fruit Co. in 1994, and has been with Vision Produce since 1999.  Vogel said he has been very successful on the sales and procurement desk for a number of years, as he moved into managing the Tropical Department, and then on to a vice president position where he has helped the company with current and expanding business.  He graduated from California State University at Long Beach in 1993 with a bachelor’s degree in business administration.

“Dan’s deep experience with trade operations, customer service and business relationships makes him the perfect person to lead our company into the next generation,” Vogel said.

Lawton added, “I’ve been with Bill for over 20 years now, mainly because of his great leadership and philosophy on building a successful company.  So with the help of  a very experienced executive team, sales team and all the other valued employee’s at Vision Produce Company,  I am honored to continue on with that philosophy and prosper for many years to come.”

Vision Produce Co. operates from its headquarters/warehouse in Los Angeles, and maintains a similar facility in Phoenix.  The company also owns and operates Southwest Truck Brokers from its Phoenix branch.

Vogel began in the produce industry working for a wholesale operation in Minneapolis in the late 1960s. After college, he joined the C.H. Robinson Company there and eventually was transferred to their Los Angeles operation in the mid-1970s. He spent five years with the Duda operation in Los Angeles from 1976 to 1980 before starting Tavilla Sales Company of Los Angeles with several other partners. Vogel bought out his partners in the 1990s and affiliated with the Vision Import Group about a decade later. In 2012, Tavilla Sales changed its name to Vision Produce Company, and at the end of 2017 the company ended its partnership relationship with the Vision Import Group.

Vogel said when he started the company it began as a brokerage house but it gradually evolved over the years into a company with direct sourcing and partnership deals with suppliers. Its main two commodities groups are tropical fruit and Hispanic items with limes, mangos and papayas heading the commodity list, along with many other items.

Vogel and his wife, Marsela McGrane-Vogel, will continue their majority ownership position of Vision Produce Co. although Vogel said he is diminishing his stake over time as key employees buy into the firm. The pair run a 90-acre fruit ranch in San Diego County that specializes in limes and many other specialty fruit, and they will remain very active in the business. Mcgrane-Vogel was recently re-elected to her position as a member the National Mango Board.

Vogel expects to have more time to devote to his farming operation. He noted that “farming is not as easy as some people might think.”

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